Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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I AM the Resurrection and the Life
Good Morning and the amazing grace of God in Christ Jesus be unto you today and forever!mIt is nice to be back home after being gone to New Hampshire again where we were with the family of my wife's oldest brother, whose wife (74 yrs old) died after a short illness while traveling to a wedding. It was a very sad time as we grieved with them while attempting to offer them comfort through the Word and by our presence.

She left behind her husband of 54 years, 8 children, 53 grandchildren and 33 great grandchildren. Yes, we are grieving but we are also
rejoicing in the reality that she, being absent from the body is present with the Lord. She is sleeping in Him and will awake in the morning in the final resurrection to enjoy the full measure of being with the Lord forever. She lived in the resurrected life that Jesus gave her with the expectant hope of being with Him forever after the resurrection from the dead. (the sleeping)

You who are loved by the Lord! Isn't that good news, to be reminded that we are loved by the Lord? My dear brother in Christ, Doug Saukkola, often greets those he meets with that kind of a greeting: God loves you and so do I.

Do you sometimes wonder and even doubt the truth of these words? I think we do, as in the difficult and trying circumstances of life, our feelings and emotions often cloud our ability to experience the closeness of our Lord and our Savior. We sometimes wonder where He is, what He is doing, why we are going through what we are going through and so on. The reason for this is that we get confused between human love and divine love. In all simplicity, human love tends to look at life through earthly and present eyes while divine love looks at life through the eternal perspective.

Today we are going to be present in the hearing of the Word as Jesus performs the seventh sign in this Gospel, the raising of a man who had died from the dead, stating: "I AM the Resurrection and the Life." Again He uses a circumstance of every day life to "set up" this miracle/sign so that His Father and He might be glorified by bringing this dead man to life. He connects with them on an everyday level of life with its sorrows, needs and wants and draws them close to Him for the end purpose that He would reveal Himself to them as the One who came to give Life and an abundant one at that. (John 10:10) He is giving all a precursor to the final sign that is yet to come............His death and His resurrection!!!

May the Holy Spirit bless each of us as we draw near to Jesus through His Word this day. I will place a few comments as we go through the text in order to help bring application to ourselves in our very own lives.

KJV John 11:1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

The three, Mary, Martha and Lazarus were of one family and their youngest brother had fallen sick. The sisters, very familiar with the healing power of Jesus, naturally called upon their friend Jesus, who they knew loved Lazarus, to come to heal him. They knew this much about Jesus, in that He had the ability and the power to heal the sick and so on. It would seem a simply matter that Jesus who loved them would come to them to heal as they asked Him to. But, Jesus in divine love, had greater matters to reveal to them by His inaction of not coming to them immediately.

4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

Jesus did not come immediately, but hearing the news He in so many words said that He was going to use the death of Lazarus to show God's love, mercy and power so that both His Father and He would be glorified. What? Didn't Jesus love them all? Yes, that is why John has inserted verse 5 which says that Jesus loved the three. Then why did He stay another two days in the place that He was? Because He loved them with divine/eternal love and was going to use the struggles of the sisters in order to bring them to an understanding of divine love.

7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

Jesus then spoke to his disciples about going back into a hornets nest, where just previously the Jewish leaders had tried to kill Him for His saying that He and the Father were one. (John 10:30-31) But Jesus had no fear, for He knew that He was not going to be delivered to the cross until it was time, for no one was going to take Him, but He would yield Himself into their hands. (John 10:15) He allowed these things to sink into their minds, and then returned to the request of Mary and Martha to come to help their brother.

11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

Here we see the earthly mindedness of the disciples, even as we have seen all along in our study of John's Gospel to date. We understand things according to what we have learned through training, teaching and experience. We can only know and speak of that which we have experienced. The disciples thought that Lazarus was merely sleeping a natural sleep and that if he kept sleeping it would be good for him to get him well. But Jesus told the directly what He meant when He said he is sleeping.

14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

In three words, He told them that what He meant by sleep: Lazarus is dead. There is no earthly life in him. And then He went onto express gladness for their sakes that He was not there before Lazarus died, and then the all important purpose phrase: To the intent that ye may believe. Here is the zenith, the Mt Everest of this message that we are considering today: Jesus is doing these things in the lives of these people to the end that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent and in doing so, have eternal life. John 17:3

Allow me to expand a little on this point. There are many, including those who are reading this writing, who either struggle themselves with wondering what God is doing in their lives, or in the lives of others. You wonder, how I am going to get through this? What is going to happen in the future? Maybe as you read this now, those thoughts are coming to you, just as they did to the disciples when Jesus said that Lazarus is dead, I am glad for your sakes that I did not get here before He died, but this is all for the purpose that you might believe in Me. May the Holy Spirit open our hearts, minds and eyes to what is being said and intended here by Jesus.

Then in the last part of verse 15, Jesus says: Nevertheless let us go unto him. Jesus had told them what this happening was all about, and now in order to demonstrate and illustrate what He had said to them, He was going to go to where the sleeping Lazarus lay.

16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

One disciple gave a response to this shocking statements and difficult to understand, saying, well, if Lazarus is dead, and we are going into the dangerous place with You, Jesus, we might as well go along and die just like Lazarus did. Not a very positive response, for sure, and to this statement Jesus said nothing.

17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: (two miles)
19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

There was weeping and wailing there, as it was the custom to do for a week.

20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

Martha, recognizing that Jesus would have been able to prevent her brother from dying, said those words to Jesus as she met Him. Then she expressed her understanding of Jesus having great power, but did she still yet think of Jesus only as a servant to God and not as God Himself? It seems like it.

23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

To this Jesus, replied: Your brother will rise again, speaking to what He was going to do in a physical sense, which would be a sign of greater things to come in Himself.

24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

Martha, understanding from the Old Testament scriptures that there is a resurrection from the dead, said, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection of the dead at the last day.Then Jesus spoke the words that have deep meaning and significance for all of mankind!!!

25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Apostle Paul in his second letter to Timothy captured the essence of what Jesus now says to Martha, to us, to the intent that we would believe.

2 Timothy 1:9 (God) Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

So when Jesus says, I AM the resurrection and the life, He is saying, I AM the Abolisher of death, and the Giver of Life. Jesus asked her on that day and asks us today? Do you believe this?

27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

2 Timothy 2:12. nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Do you believe this?
Posted on 02 Apr 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Tradition or Revelation? 3.19.2017

KJV John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Jesus came here to this earth to save us from our sin, but until our eyes are opened and we are able to see this be faith, or by believing it, we remain blind even in our traditions. As we have been hearing from Jesus, we cannot see the kingdom of God until we are born from above:

KJV John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

And also He has been telling us that the Father is seeking those who worship Him in spirit and in truth:

KJV John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

Last week on Sunday Jesus began to connect the giving of manna by Moses with Himself as the Living Bread from heaven in chapter 6 of this gospel of John:

KJV John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Today we have a very long reading, from John 8:12 through John 9:41. In brief it contains Jesus¿½¬¢ explanation to what it means that He is the light of the world and that the one who follows Him will not walk in darkness but will HAVE the light of life. (My capitalization for emphasis)

The struggle between living only by tradition vs the revelation of Jesus Christ is an ongoing struggle for all people. It is easy to see the resistance that our human flesh has to the revelation of God of Jesus Christ on the cross played out through the lives of the traditionalists in our text in both chapters 8 and 9. They did not seek to know Him for who He really was, but they asked their questions and gave their responses based on their understandings as they held to them. They continually counteracted Him, accused Him, attacked His character, tried to kill him and eventually did kill Him.

In chapter 9 Jesus uses the life of a man born blind to illustrate what He has been discussing with the religious leaders. In last week¿½¬¢s message, Jesus gave the sign first (the feeding of the 5000) and then did the lesson and the application. This week He gives the lesson in chapter 8, and then in chapter 9 brings in a person through whom He illustrates how one is brought from blindness to sight. He again takes a natural physical situation and uses it to teach the spiritual.

I would like to approach it this way. On occasion I will ask people whom I do not know very well if they would be willing to share some watershed moments in their lives. If they are open to it, I go on to explain what I mean by watershed moments. Have there been a time in your life when either by revelation through the Word or through some trial, or through some supernatural sign that you came to see God in a greater way than you have before? And through the occurrence your life made a great positive change for the better in knowing Jesus Christ?

Let me explain by looking at the life of the formerly blind man. If he would have looked back, perhaps he would have responded by pointing to these three happenings:

I was born blind for God's glory, but after many years I was given sight.

KJV John 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

The man Jesus gave me my physical sight

John 9:25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

Jesus came to find me and gave me my spiritual sight. He gave me faith to believe¿½¬¦¿½¬¦

John 9:35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?
37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.
38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

The man had been born blind, had been given physical sight by Jesus, and had increasingly had his spiritual eyes opened to the difference between tradition and revelation as he experienced the wrath of the traditionalists. No one was asking him, as to where is He that we might truly come to know Him by listening to Him speak. No, they were asking how did he do it, where did he go, were you really blind and so on.
Tradition is well and good, but if it keeps us from worshiping our God in Spirit and in truth it is vain.

This week I visited with a man who shared his experience of how God revealed himself to him. This is not to be taken as a blueprint for everyone, for as is written previously in chapter 3, revelation comes to all by the Spirit, but in different and diverse ways. Jesus had pointed out to his audience of skeptics in the previous chapter that they will only know who He is when He is on the cross.

8:28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

What is common to all revelation God and His purposes for all mankind is only understood through the cross, which is understood and believed only through illumination of the Holy Spirit by faith.

This man shared with me and gave me permission to publicly share his experience of how God uncovered/revealed Himself to Him. Many years ago he had lost a son when he was five years old due to an tragic accident. He struggled with wondering what he did so that God would cause this to happen in his life. As a result he began to read the scriptures to find his answer. A few months later, when he was out in the field, and with this question pressing on his mind and heart so firmly, he fell to the ground with a great groan, grabbed his shirt and tore it so much that he ripped some of the buttons off of it.

He likened the tearing of his shirt from top to bottom to the tearing of the veil of the temple that was tore from the top to the bottom. He likened the earthquake to an earthquake like happening in his life that caused him such great agony and pain in in the death of his son.

Matthew 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

God began to reveal to him that He (God) had gone through the same experience in that He had lost a son, and as this man thought on this, he realized it must have been much worse for God, because He knew that He was going to lose His Son.

One of the thoughts that kept coming to his mind was: What did God do that He had to sacrifice His Son on the cross? It was through this experience that this man came to understand the meaning of the of Jesus being lifted up on the cross and that through God planned to lose His Son for the forgiveness of His sins. God revealed Himself through the cross to this man.

How can we not come to the Holy Supper of our Lord in great thankfulness, in worship and in joy, for the revelation of His grace to us? He invites us to join Him at His table today. Come for the feast is spread and ready.

In His Name, Amen.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 19 Mar 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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I AM the Resurrection and the Life
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Lawry Kilpela family as they grieve but yet rejoice in Lawry's being called home.